As a result of their claims, the male teen, identified in the lawsuit as T.F., was fired from his job, charged with crimes, harassed and bullied at school, and expelled from school. He now suffers mental health problems.
All criminal charges were later dropped against T.F. when three girls admitted they had lied about him.
On Oct. 1, T.F.’s parents, Michael Flood Jr. and Alecia Flood, filed a civil lawsuit (pdf) seeking unspecified civil damages from the girls’ parents, the school district, and the district attorney.
The girls have not suffered any consequences for their alleged false accusations, and neither the police, nor the school district, have taken any action against them, according to the lawsuit.
The Flood family’s attorney, Craig Fishman, told Penn Live that T.F. “was basically being tortured in school by the other students and investigators, but the administration was only focused on protecting the girls who were lying.”
The lawsuit alleges that T.F. “was subjected to gender-based discrimination by the Seneca Valley School District.” It said that the policy or custom of the school district and Butler County “creates a risk to males like T.F. because they result in there being no deterrent against women who make false sexual assault claims against men, resulting in a deprivation of the right to equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment for males such as T.F.”
‘Critically Damaged … Indefinitely’
What the girls have done has “critically damaged T.F. physically and psychologically and will impact his young life indefinitely,” the lawsuit said.
It began with two girls who conspired to have T.F. fired from his job as a lifeguard at a community swimming pool. A girl identified only as K.S. and Megan Villegas both also worked at the pool. They claimed that T.F. had sexually assaulted K.S. on or around July 19, 2017. As a result, T.F. was fired from his job on July 26, 2017.
K.S. began spreading the story of sexual assault among her peers and was overheard around Oct. 3, 2017, by a teacher, who reported the matter—as required by law—to Childline, the state’s child abuse and neglect prevention agency. Within days, T.F. was charged with indecent assault and harassment.
The Flood family was offered a plea deal where T.F. would not admit guilt, but would be required to stay out of trouble for six months and report to the county probation department—they agreed to the deal in November 2017.
Following the first sexual assault accusation, T.F. was bullied and harassed at school by other students, “even though he did nothing wrong,” the lawsuit said.
Several months later, another three girls corroborated a sexual assault accusation against T.F. One of the girls, C.S., claimed that T.F. entered her home uninvited and sexually assaulted her on March 23.
Evidence emerged that K.S. had advised C.S. as to how to prepare a false accusation, the lawsuit said. From this second accusation, T.F. was charged on April 9 with assault and criminal trespassing. He was placed “in leg and wrist shackles” and removed from school, and spent the subsequent 9 days in juvenile detention, whereafter he was released on house arrest and required to wear an ankle monitor.
“After 28 days, T.F. was only allowed out of his home to mow his lawn,” the lawsuit said, adding that T.F. was “deprived of his liberty for a total of 50 days.”
However, evidence to the contrary, including Snapchat messages and a video recording, began emerging. The three girls involved in the second accusation, including C.S., were interviewed by an assistant at the district attorney’s office, and they eventually admitted that they had lied. T.F.’s ankle monitor was removed on May 29.
On Aug. 30, all charges against T.F., including those from the first accusation, were dismissed.
In a statement released by the Butler County district, school officials defended their actions in handling the situation and said they believe “the lawsuit is without merit.”
“The number-one priority of the Seneca Valley School District is the safety and well-being of our students, staff, parents and volunteers who enter our buildings,” read the statement, sighted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“We have followed all applicable laws, and we will vigorously defend ourselves throughout the process,” the district said in response to repeated requests by the Tribune-Review to comment to the lawsuit.
On Oct. 15, School Board President Jim Nickel said that “there is quite a bit of misinformation and misperception out there.”
“Just because something is contained in a lawsuit complaint does not mean that it’s fact,” he said.
One Twitter post from a former Seneca Valley student read: “A disgrace that one of the nicest kids, and sincere families in Seneca has to deal with this.
A disgrace that one of the nicest kids, and sincere families in Seneca has to deal with this. Actions like this damage true victims of sexual assault claims, and will make a district attorney double think before bringing charges against a true abuser. #WeStand4Flood https://t.co/Wx2sSoY6PE
— Ryan Senka (@senka33) October 4, 2018
“Actions like this damage true victims of sexual assault claims, and will make a district attorney double think before bringing charges against a true abuser. #WeStand4Flood”
Robby Soave, an editor at reason.com and a columnist for The Daily Beast, commented on the issue:
“From the school’s perspective, it had no choice but to involve Childline when it learned about a possible sexual assault. And school officials can’t punish any of the female students for their bad behavior outside of school.”
But he said false accusations of sexual assault “do happen.”
“To pretend otherwise, as fourth-wave feminism’s believe-all-victims mantra demands, is to ignore a large number of cases involving young people—often young black men—wrongly accused of sexual misconduct.”